Bloomberg reported that Indian Railways, Asia’s oldest rail network will buy new wagons and build more coaches to upgrade infrastructure and compete with highways to carry goods in the world’s second fastest growing major economy.
Ms Mamata Banerjee minister of India Railway said the state owned railway will buy 18,000 wagons and set up a factory to make 500 coaches a year. She kept freight rates and passenger fares unchanged for 15 million daily commuters in the railway budget for the year ending March.
Mr Dharmakirti Joshi an economist at Standard & Poor’s India unit said Indian Railways expects to carry 5.9% more goods in the year to March as economic expansion fuels the need to move coal and iron ore. Dr Manmohan Singh’s PM of India government needs to allocate increased resources to improve the 156 year old rail network and other infrastructure facilities to lift growth.
Mr Joshi said “If you want to improve the efficiency of the system, you have to start focusing on bottlenecks including those in the railway freight system. China’s general infrastructure is far superior to ours.”
The government’s Economic Survey said India’s economic growth may accelerate to as much as 7.75% this year if the US and global economies revive. The USD 1.2 trillion economy expanded 6.7% in the year ended March 31st, the slowest pace since 2003, as India was hit by the worst global recession since the Great Depression.
Ms Banerjee said Indian Railways aims to move 882 million tonne of cargo in the fiscal year ending March 31st compared with 833 million tonne a year earlier. The entity expects to collect INR 585 billion from freight in the period and INR 243 billion selling passenger tickets.
Mr SS Khurana chairman of the Railway Board said “We are aware of the difficult year ahead. We have already geared up to ensure that we not only achieve these targets, but improve upon them.”
Indian Railways, which has some 108,000 kilometers of track, also moves rice, wheat and other farm produce. It operates about 11,000 trains a day and has about 1.4 million people on its payroll. The railway has presented its own budget since 1925, after British colonial rulers separated the finances from the federal government’s accounts.